I am generally not very ecstatic about my birthdays. I don’t consider them very special or exciting enough, except the fact that I get to talk to the most of my friends on the same day. It is not that I don’t like to celebrate, or shy away from throwing parties. I just don’t think that only a birthday is a special day. Everyday is a special day, in fact every moment is! Nature doesn’t act any differently on these so-called special days like showering one with flowers or money! Only way it makes you feel special is by your friends. Biologically there are always some dying cells and new-born cells to replace them instantly, so theoretically one dies and is born every moment. Psychologically you are born with new understanding every moment. So it is uncharacteristic, as well as amusing, that I am very excited about my birthday this year as I turn 28. There are a couple of reasons for that, one founded in literature and the other in mathematics.
What I found in literature : My office friends gifted me Thomas Hardy’s classic Far From the Madding Crowd on my last birthday, but not before I treated them for lunch. Lousy friends I have. Love them all! I have a firm belief that every event and every thing has some significance in your life. That day I could not comprehend what significance this book would have in future. I did not get chance to read it until just before my following birthday. The description of certain farmer Oak bemused me and made me eager to wait for the day when I turn 28. It reminds me of myself. Here is that apt and very beautiful passage:
“He had just reached the time of life at which "young" is ceasing to be the prefix of "man" in speaking of one. He was at the brightest period of masculine growth, for his intellect and his emotions were clearly separated: he had passed the time during which the influence of youth indiscriminately mingles them in the character of impulse, and he had not yet arrived at the stage wherein they become united again, in the character of prejudice, by the influence of a wife and family. In short, he was twenty-eight, and a bachelor.”
What the mathematics provided : Pythagorean Brotherhood was fascinated by numbers – Pythagoras proudly declared that Everything is Number – and among the numbers, they were after the very special and rarest numbers, called the perfect numbers. A perfect number is a positive number whose divisors exactly add up to the number itself. The first perfect number is 6, because 1, 2, and 3 are its proper positive divisors, and 1 + 2 + 3 = 6. The next perfect number, adding to my excitement, is 28, because 1 + 2 + 4 + 7 + 14 = 28 :) In other words, the perfection is achieved not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing to remove. These perfect numbers comply to that definition because adding the divisors just make the same number again, nothing more, nothing less.
The perfection of 6 and 28 is also acknowledged by some cultures who observed that the moon orbits the earth every 28 days and who declared that God created the world in 6 days. When I was 6, I was too young to appreciate this perfection and the next perfect number is 496, which I will not live to see unless I am blessed with immortality. So 28 remains to be the sole celebration of perfection in my current life. Let there be celebration galore!